I was talking to a couple of friends about baseball and the necessity of pitching and we agreed that we don’t need it.  IN Fantasy that is.  Don’t get me wrong, I like pitchers and realize they are an integral part of the game; I mean someone has to throw the ball.  Or do they?  We have pitching machines already, and we don’t have to worry about them getting hurt.  All we have to do is make them look cool.  Let Kayne design them.  Nah, you say, c’mon man, that’s crazy.  I know it is; I’m just looking forward to when we have half man/half machine and full on robots like Super Baseball 2020 for the Super Nintendo (or if you were a rich kid back in the day you had it on Neo Geo).  I don’t expect we’re getting there soon, and definitely not by 2020, but when we do I will be there cheering on Barry Bonds (if anyone is getting fused with a robot to play baseball it’s him, right?).

For now, we have pitchers.  Again, I could watch Kershaw pitch all day long, can’t get enough of Pedro Martinez highlights, loved seeing Greg Maddux beat my Cubs in 76 pitches, enjoyed the heck out Kerry Wood and Nolan Ryan and the current strikeout guys…like I said, I’ll miss them once they’re replaced by robots.  For now though, we have to put up with them in fantasy; a necessary evil if there ever was one.

I remember reading/hearing/learning that good pitchers will start about 30 games a season; typically they have ten great starts, ten alright starts, and ten stinkers.  I’ve taken that with a grain of salt (or many grains, how about just a to go salt packet?) but it applies in a general sense.  Obviously adjust accordingly, like Kershaw’s going to have 20 great starts, and Kyle Hendricks is going to have more than ten stinkers…but overall it holds.

Here’s two examples: Jon Gray and Junior Guerra.  Gray, whose ownership numbers are finally getting near 50% (49% in Yahoo and 49% in ESPN as of this writing), pitches in Colorado, as we all know (or if you didn’t now you do).  He’s won his last three (two at home versus Atlanta and the Dodgers and away at Baltimore), has 120 Ks in 114 2/3 innings, and has the 3rd overall draft choice pedigree.  Did I start him in any of those starts?  Of course not; I was scared by Coors (the f’ing banquet beer?  What is that?  The last time I was at a banquet will be the first time) and Baltimore can crush.

Gray’s now had three of his ten great starts and I missed them all.  Looking at Gray’s 19 starts on the season: four terribly awful starts, six starts where he’s given up one or less earned runs and nine average starts (my own personal rankings of his starts, it’s not the most scientific, but it’s as good as using wins so there ya go).  He’s had four of those great starts in his last four games, so I expect a few more great starts (and a couple stinkers too; Colorado alone will do that to him).

On the flip side we have Junior Guerra.  He’s also not owned in enough leagues (67% in ESPN and 69% in Yahoo) but still more than Gray; I attribute that to his home park (though Miller isn’t a pitchers park).  So he’s going against the Padres Wednesday in San Diego and of course he lays an egg, four IP and four earned runs with five Ks.  This should’ve been his eight inning, 12 K, no earned runs coming out party; rather it was a coming in party (you know, when everybody has to come in the house cause it’s raining).  Guerra has made 17 starts on the season.  Seven starts with an earned run or less; six average starts and four stinkers.  Besides his most recent start he’s been money, so I expect him to do about the same as Gray the rest of the way.

Anyhoo the hard part is identifying which ten starts to sit your guy.  First off I’d recommend Stream-o-nator (I don’t just write for Razzball but I use their products too!); besides helping choose when to start guys using that has allowed me to stream starters late in the season when guys go down like that dude Igby.

Secondly, and this is the straight up truth: there is no way to tell when to start a guy or not.  Starting a guy in Colorado?  Never do it, don’t even like starting Kershaw there (but of course he starts; I’m not crazy).  Start a guy against San Diego? Always and twice on Thursdays.  How many guys go in there and get lit up?  Not many (unless it’s one of their ten bad starts).  Looking at the hot teams in baseball can help some and finding out which way the wind is blowing (Yahoo has added weather to their website, which is less helpful than one would think…shocker I know) is a lot of work, honestly.

So you can go crazy over why a guy, who has been awesome so long, suddenly starts sucking (Matt Harvey, anyone?) and there’s jack crap you can do about it.  You might be able to trade him, but it’s selling low.  Do you ever notice how hard it is to trade a pitcher low versus a hitter?  Stanton was never cheap this season even when he was stinking.  Archer?  You couldn’t get much for him even though he has a ton of Ks this year.  So what’s the solution you ask?  Why did it take us so long to get here?  I have stuff to do today, when you getting to the point?  Fair questions, all.

I don’t like the idea of simply getting rid of pitching.  But I want to revisit a quirk of the fantasy game that used to be on mlb.com; it could still be for all I know (it wasn’t a good game overall and the competition was lousy) but it did have a great part: team pitching.  That’s what I want.  The whole staff of a couple teams.  Check it: Most leagues are ten teams; that allows each team to draft three teams each (and can start two each week).  In 12 teamers each team drafts two; that works because each team can only own two teams so there will always be free agent options.  Then we don’t have to worry about Tommy John or MRIs, guys getting blown up and/or demoted, those ten bad starts, when you’re on vacation and your closer gets hurt or traded and you can’t get cell service to grab his back up…nope, you just draft your favorite team, another team you think will be great and bing, bang, boom! You’re done.  Pitching covered.  Now who’s coming with me?

  1. Trull Sengar says:

    Hmm, that’s pretty interesting. I’ve thought that it should be team runningbacks in football for a while.

    I do think you’d need to use quality starts instead of wins. So that it’s not just the best teams that are worth the most.

    • Phil B.

      Phil B. says:

      @Trull Sengar: totally agree on football. I could see quality starts over wins, makes picking a good/bad team more manageable.

  2. DickieT says:

    I love this idea. Is there a possible way to make this option happen in cbs, yahoo or espn or somewhere else? Currently in a longtime keeper with wins being 18 pts and it drives me crazy. Looking to start up a league for next year at work and thinking of ways of making IP, K worth alot since they are within a pitchers control.
    Also favor the team running back idea for football. Why can’t this be an option somewhere, or is it one already?

    • Phil B.

      Phil B. says:

      @DickieT: glad I’m not alone in this. I will do some research and see. I’d love to try it out for next season somewhere. In some of my leagues and I’m sure for most there are owners who just don’t spend the time to set their pitching lineups, and even I miss starts of my aces a couple times per season. It’d simplify a lot.

  3. DickieT says:

    I just see how little pitchers today factor into the decision. And to try something different would be cool. I have tried doing a yahoo fantasy with saber stats but hard to find enough people that understand them. I do remember the mlb game mentioned, saving my money to get a strong pitching staff. I think espn did this back in the early 00s also. And the players salary would fluctuate throughout the season, depending on their current streaks.

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